A Seattle police officer driving to a call Monday night struck and killed Jaahnavi Kandula, 23, who was in crosswalk at a South Lake Union intersection when she was hit.
The Seattle Police Department was slow to release information Monday and did not confirm Kandula, a student at Northeastern University’s Seattle campus, had died until nearly 18 hours after she was hit.
In the days since her death, the department has shared few details about the moments leading up to the crash, citing an active investigation by the traffic collision investigation squad.
SPD did not release new information Thursday, but in a statement, said it would provide “all publicly releasable” information once “able to do so,” in consultation with Kandula’s family.
“We want to acknowledge the many questions we are receiving regarding the collision Monday night between an SPD officer and a pedestrian. As is the case with any serious motor vehicle collision, this incident is under investigation by SPD’s Traffic Collision Investigation Squad, consistent with SPD policy,” said the statement posted on its online blotter.
“We extend our deepest condolences to Ms. Kandula’s family and friends. This incident is a terrible tragedy for everyone involved.”
Here’s what we know so far and what remains unanswered.
What police department has said
In an online blotter post shortly before 11:30 p.m. Monday, SPD said a pedestrian was hit by an officer in a marked patrol SUV at the intersection of Thomas Street and Dexter Avenue North. She was located by officers at 8 p.m. Monday and taken to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition.
The King Medical Examiner’s Office said she died Monday night from multiple blunt force injuries.
Police didn’t provide an update until nearly 2 p.m. Tuesday, when the post was updated to say the pedestrian had died. Police declined to name the officer but said he has been with the department since November 2019.
SPD told The Seattle Times on Wednesday that Kandula was crossing from east to west in the crosswalk when she was hit.
The department has not released details such as the name of the officer, the speed he was driving, precisely where Kandula was hit or if the officer remained at the scene.
The officer won’t be working his next shift, but instead will be taking a “release day,” Detective Valerie Carson, a police spokesperson, said Tuesday. Release days are part of SPD’s officer wellness program after “traumatic or upsetting” incidents. They must be approved by the officer’s chain of command.
It is not clear how long the officer will be be taking release days or if he will be placed on leave while the investigation continues.
What Kandula’s family has said
Kandula’s uncle, Ashok Mandula, said he and his wife got the call in their Houston home Monday night. They booked a flight to Seattle that night and are now in the city, working to take Kandula’s body back to India.
When he arrived in Seattle, Mandula visited the intersection where Kandula was killed, just several blocks from the university campus.
Mandula planned to visit the police department Wednesday, and said he wants to find out exactly what happened.
“Our first priority is to get her home so her family can see her,” he said.
Kandula, from Adoni, India, came to the U.S. in 2021, and was attending the Northeastern University campus in South Lake Union. She was on track to receive a master’s in information systems this December. Kandula and her sister were raised by a single mother, an elementary school teacher.
Material from The Seattle Times archives is included in this report.